Away Day Joy Continues

Portsmouth's 2-1 victory over AFC Wimbledon at Kingsmeadow ensured a sixth league win in seven away matches and maintained their position at the top of League One.

The win was a result of a dominant first half display against a terrible Dons side who couldn't cope with Pompey's pressing tactics and a modified front three of Dion Donohue, Gareth Evans and Oli Hawkins with Jamal Lowe playing just behind them.

Pompey established their threat from corners early on as John McDonald had to save Tom Naylor's header with his legs but he couldn't prevent Naylor's second header from finding the back of the net from Donohue's delivery, although the ball did take a deflection from a Dons defender.

Hawkins headed wide after that but the lead was soon doubled thanks to a nicely worked move which ended with Lee Brown squaring the ball across goal for Evans to score from a tight angle.

The pressure didn't relent as Naylor forced McDonald to tip his strike over the bar whilst Lowe was forever causing problems for the Wimbledon back four and was unlucky not to do more damage to their hopes of getting anything from the game.

In fact, their only meaningful effort in the first half was a Jake Jervis shot which was comfortably saved by Craig MacGillivray and Lee Probert also booked Donohue for simulation in the box when he was fouled and could have easily had a penalty instead.

Neal Ardley reacted by making a triple substitution at half-time but Pompey were still in control with Jervis having to clear Matt Clarke's header off the line from yet another dangerous corner.

However, the balance of the game was turned on its head when the hosts pulled one back. Evans' lazy clearance fell to James Hanson who curled the ball into the top corner, giving MacGillivray no chance.

From then on it was all Wimbledon as Pompey defended deep and constantly hoofed the ball back to the home side, meaning they couldn't alleviate any of the pressure coming their way.

The back four had to get bodies in the way and make some crucial blocks to ensure the equaliser didn't arrive and to their credit, they saw out the rest of the game (including the five minutes of stoppage time) to bounce back from last weekend's defeat to Gillingham.

Whilst a win is always great to celebrate, had such a poor side as Wimbledon got the equaliser they were pushing for then there would have been uproar as this wasn't the first time this season Kenny Jackett's men have been in a position of comfort only to then have to produce a backs-to-the-wall showing to preserve their lead.

The manager has to take some of the responsibility for the poor game management and it was increasingly frustrating to see so many players behind the ball and lump it upfield only for it to come straight back.

There are enough players in the team who are good enough to hit the opposition on the break when they've committed so many men forward and it's infuriating that Jackett refuses to acknowledge this tactic whether the team are defending a corner or a lead from general play as when the scores are level and Pompey have to find a goal, they can play some devastating attacking football.

Having said that, Jackett will point to the results this team have earned by defending the way they have been and he obviously trusts his men to stick to their roles and do what's required of them when they don't have the ball.

It's easy to be too critical and it should be said that Wimbledon's goal, despite what happened before it, was a peach and that's now three consecutive games where the opposition has scored "worldies" which are rarely seen at this level of football and that underlines just how difficult it is to break down such a tough unit.

That bodes well for the future and Pompey fans shouldn't complain too much as the fact is that their team has taken 19 points from a possible 21 on the road this season and that is unheard of for supporters of this club, especially considering how bad they were away from home last season!

Now if only they could remember how to win at Fratton Park...

Pompey Player Ratings

Craig MacGillivray: 7 - Calm under increasing pressure in the second half.

Nathan Thompson: 7 - Continually consistent.

Matt Clarke: 8 - Unlucky not to score.

Jack Whatmough: 8 - Close quarters defending was excellent.

Lee Brown: 8 - Doesn't get the plaudits he deserves.

Ben Thompson: 7 - Shone in the first half.

Tom Naylor: 8 - Is becoming one of Pompey's most important players.

Jamal Lowe: 7 - A menace before Wimbledon got one back.

Gareth Evans: 7 - Outstanding first half but sluggish in the second.

Dion Donohue: 7 - Delivery into the box caused chaos.

Oli Hawkins: 7 - Held the ball up very well even if his attempts need to be more accurate.

Substitutes

Luke McGee

Anton Walkes (N. Thompson 89): N/A - Thompson seemed knackered so the switch made sense.

Christian Burgess

Ben Close (Donohue 74): N/A - Didn't see much of the ball.

Louis Dennis

Joe Mason

Brett Pitman (Hawkins 80): N/A - Would have been angered to be dropped but Hawkins justified his selection.